As we celebrate the forty-fifth anniversary of Earth Day this week, our students, alumni, faculty, and staff will be attending special programs at the Peabody Museum of Natural History and the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and taking part in New Haven’s annual “green” fundraiser: the Rock to Rock bicycle ride. The Yale Earth Month website lists these and other events, if you would like to participate in them. Our community is passionate about environmental stewardship and sustainability, and I know that there are countless other ways that those of you around campus—and around the globe—will be marking Earth Day.
This is a day to focus our awareness on topics of crucial importance to our planet. But even more vital than what we, collectively and individually, do on April 22 is what we do the other 364 days of the year—of every year. Last August, I announced six new initiatives to advance Yale’s leadership in environmental sustainability. Since then, we have made great strides: expanding our use of renewable energy, joining the U.S. non-profit Climate Registry, launching a Green Innovation Fellowships program, setting ambitious goals for university-wide and school-specific sustainability plans, and considering a carbon charge. The Carbon Charge Task Force, chaired by Professor William Nordhaus, underscores Yale’s potential to be a test-bed for national energy policy.
At Yale, we are fortunate to have robust student engagement in this area, and the university leadership has benefited greatly from input. Student environmental activism has been in the news lately—with protests both here on our own campus and at other colleges around the country—and I am proud that on this topic, as in all matters, there are diverse perspectives and a respectful open debate on our campus. Many of us share common concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and I believe that differing points of view about to how have a significant impact on this crucial challenge can only make us stronger and better-equipped to bring about real change. On Earth Day, and every day, we should celebrate the creativity in thinking represented in our community and the opportunity that Yale has to be a leader in this most fundamental of global issues.